All Change On Summers Lane

No – the 382 bus hasn’t broken down, though it does happen.

PDL76 is Unwell
PDL76 is Unwell

There has been a change of Management at Wingate & Finchley FC and a pretty drastic one at that! Having seen the club through to survival in the Ryman Premier Division, Gary and his staff are leaving by ‘mutual agreement’ with the board. Mutual Agreement? – That’s a footballing euphamism for a difference of opinion that would require UN involvement to resolve! Basically, the Chairman wants the club to move in one direction and the Manager wants to do something else. It happens in football clubs at all levels of the game.

It’s fairly easy to know what the issue is at Wingate – the club policy is to grow players through the youth teams until they are ready for the first team. The Manager’s policy was to bring players in to fill gaps, a number of which were created by letting existing first team players go. Some of those players that were released were seen as key by many of the fans and it didn’t help that many of their replacements were not really any better! It looked like the Manager was surrounding himself with people he knew and getting rid of the faces we knew. This too is a symptom of football management throughout the game. Clearly there ought to be a happy medium where the Club and Manager’s requirements are largely met but in this case it doesn’t seem to have been achievable in the long term.

Although the announcement 10 days after the Annual Awards Night that Gary was to leave came as a bit of a shock to many of the fans there were signs – straws in the wind – for those who were listening to the speeches as the gongs were handed out. Talk of change to the club system – no more First Team Reserves and no more Capital League where trying to play your matches on schedule had become a joke. There was talk of a new Development Team as a replacement. There were also rumours that a couple of our very senior players were on their way out in the closed season – no longer required. And there was some interesting body language to be observed…

Body Language?   The Chairman looks pensive while the Manager looks the other way - a straw in the wind?
Body Language? The Chairman looks pensive while the Manager looks the other way – a straw in the wind?

So, was Gary’s tenure as manager unsuccessful? Not really – he achieved his remit of keeping Wingate & Finchley in the Ryman Premier Division. A couple of his signings certainly stood out for me – Spencer Bellotti, Anthony Thomas and Hector Mackie. And there was a meeting of the ways with youngsters Jack Hutchinson, Gavin Suddell and Ryan Scott making it into the first team. I personally grew to like Gary and feel that he grew into the job. However, from some things that have been passed on after matches it seems that he had some man-management skills still to learn. That will come with experience – it’s all too easy to forget that in a way he was also an example of the club policy of growing young talent. I would like to wish him every success for the future.

Who are the ‘New’ Management Team? Danny Nielsen (Niels) – Over 430 appearances for the club and Captain for a number of seasons – takes on the role of Head Coach with Gavin King (Saint Gav) confirmed as Goalkeeping Coach…

Gavin punches clear!
Gavin punches clear!
Danny hoofs it!
Danny hoofs it!

Now there is a feeling of irony about this. You see, in the period when we were without a Manager after David Norman resigned it was Niels and Gavin that masterminded a precious win against Kingstonian. Was that an opportunity missed or were negotiations with Gary already complete? I guess the fans will never know but hopefully that win is an omen for the future πŸ™‚ A second irony is that back in February 2012 at the Harrow match I reported the following… Danny Neils’ was unavailable as his hamstring hadn’t healed and he’d be in the stands – I heard him shouting encouragement through much of the game and I jokingly asked him if he’d considered a coaching role when he retires. Needless to say the response was β€œI’m not ready to hang my boots up just yet” Here we are with Danny finally taking on that coaching role – I wonder if he’ll have the cheek to come on as a sub πŸ˜‰

The vacant manager’s position will be filled by the returning David Norman – welcome back Dave πŸ™‚

Dave surrounded by Brentwood players
Dave surrounded by Brentwood players

It’ll be interesting to see what changes to the playing staff will occur under the new set-up… The friendlies will be kicking off and I guess I’ll have to dust off the camera for the team photos πŸ™‚

Finally, stepping back a couple of weeks to the Awards Night, my colleague Web Martin presented the Supporters Player of the Season award. This year’s winner… Marc Weatherstone who was duly presented with a bottle of Just for Men πŸ˜‰

All thoughts expressed are my own and do not represent the views of Wingate & Finchley FC. Please click on the Wingate & Finchley Badge to visit the Official Club Website.


  1. Changes can be a bit difficult…
    but sometimes it turns out they were just what was needed to shake things up / improve the situation (for everyone involved). I sincerely hope that proves to be the case here, Martin…

  2. Well, well, well. It will be an interesting season —
    Sometimes a change is exactly what is needed. Somehow this has that ring about it.
    Good luck to one and all!

  3. Excellent piece Martin and interesting to learn of the goings on that even the Non League paper misses, there is an interesting parallel up my way,my club AFC Wulfrunians have a good balance of bringing players through from the youth system (5 made their debut’s last season) and bringing in players that our manager Steve Palmer through his extensive non league contacts has spotted.
    Contrast that with Midlands Alliance team Tipton Town who appointed the former Gornal Athletic manager who has promptly brought 15 of his former players with him. I personally prefer development to mass imports

    1. Thanks Nigel πŸ™‚ Yes, I’m definitely with you and our Chairman on that one! Bringing youth through is the best way and so much more fulfilling for a club and its supporters.

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